This week the shopper visits Brighton. The shopper is a research assistant at a local higher education institution.
The shopper wants to protect her income should she fall critically ill and is no longer be able to work. She is unsure whether to take out critical illness cover or income protection and wants to know which makes more sense for her.
Each week the mystery shopper seeks advice from independent advisers in the UK.
The aim is to find out whether advisers are delivering the goods when it comes to the all-important initial telephone contact between client and adviser. It is only intended to evaluate this first interview, and it is understood that further meetings would be necessary before final decisions could be made. The purpose is not to expose poor selling practices, but to show constructively any weaknesses in the advice process.
Adviser: Flying Colours (Independent)
Address: Flying Colours, Telecom House, 125-135 Preston Road, East Sussex, Brighton, BN1 6AF
Speed: 10.30am. Call answered by client co-ordinator. 4/5
Telephone manner: The individual was friendly, but became a little abrupt towards the end. 4/5
Qualifications: Not an adviser. 2/5
Payment method: The team member said the shopper would not need to pay anything as the provider would pay charges to the company for the protection policy taken out. 5/5
Guidance: The client services co-ordinator said he was not sure which policy should be taken out, and this needs to be discussed with an adviser. He suggested setting up a phone call with an adviser before a face-to-face consultation. 3/5
Knowledge: He was not able to provide any information on the protection products or guidance other than forwarding the shopper's query to an adviser. 2/5
Email: email@example.com. The shopper was asked why he/she needed the email address. 4/5
Verdict: The shopper was told that even if an adviser was available in the office, that the shopper would have to go through the client co-ordinator first. The shopper would have liked more guidance on the phone and to have been able to discuss the situation more in depth with an adviser first.
Adviser: Sandringham Financial Partners (independent)
Address: 69 Havelock Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1
Speed: 10.05am. The shopper is transferred to an adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: The adviser was extremely friendly. 5/5
Qualifications: Level 4 Dip PFS 5/5
Payment method: The adviser said the firm would be paid by the provider, with no charges levied to the shopper. 5/5
Guidance: The adviser warned against automatically taking outincome protection and said it would likely be applicable only if some sickness prevented the shopper from doing her job. He also urged the shopper to find out whether any kind of protection would be necessary in case the shopper’s employer already provided this.
But because the shopper is a research assistant, he said as this was a skilled occupation that it may be better for the shopper to take out an income protection policy after all. He offered the shopper a follow-up call to compare prices and a face-to-face meeting. 5/5